Nakhumicha passes responsibility for extension of Edu-Afya scheme to Education CS Machogu

Health CS Susan Nakhumicha (from right), NHIF CEO Elijah Wachira and KMPDC CEO Dr David Kariuki when they appeared before the National Assembly's Health Committee at the Bunge Towers, Nairobi. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

Health Cabinet Secretary Susan Nakhumicha has passed the buck to Education CS Ezekiel Machogu over the extension of the terminated Edu-Afya medical insurance scheme.

This is coming at a time it has emerged that the state is yet to reimburse in excess of Sh4 billion to NHIF for medical services rendered to school children under the Edu-Afya and civil servants in their separate scheme.

“NHIF was involved in the provision of services for the Ministry of Education under the Edu-Afya programme. However, the contract for the programme ended last year,” said Nakhumicha.

“It is now upon CS Ezekiel Machogu to write to us to seek an extension of the programme. We are ready to undertake this,” said Nakhumicha when she appeared before the National Assembly Health Committee.

The Endebess MP Robert Pukose-led committee had sought to know the status of the Edu-Afya programme ahead of the folding up of the National Health Insurance Fund(NHIF) to pave way for the Social Health Insurance Fund(SHIF).

The Sh4.5 billion Edu-Afya scheme was operationalized in 2018 had been running for four and a half years before being halted in December 2023. Its stoppage however left parents and educators with the burden of figuring out alternative ways of ensuring access of healthcare for secondary school students amid concerns over the potential impact on students’ well-being.

The scheme offered comprehensive medical insurance coverage for students in public secondary schools registered with the National Educational Management Information System (NEMIS). It also helped in the diagnosis of previously undetected - and therefore untreated - chronic conditions that cause students to miss school regularly.

In  the cover, the ministry had negotiated an annual premium of Sh1,350 per student. And according to the last report on the medical scheme in 2019, some 606,893 students sought medical attention between January and December of that year out of the 2.7 million students covered in the same period.

The parliamentary team had consequently sought to understand whether the scheme would be making a comeback under SHIF and if all the pending bills under it had been paid.
Chairman Pukose put the CS to task citing the uproar that had met the decision by state to terminate the programme.

“We have had cases of students losing their lives because this program was stopped. Can you tell us in detail the status of this program?” he posed.

To which Nakhumicha responded, “Should the Education CS write to me, we are ready to extend the contract of the scheme through NHIF to cover especially those that were already registered under it. I am aware there a few students still in hospital and who were relying on this scheme.”

The chairperson however cautioned NHIF against requesting for supplementary funding, noting that its mandate would lapse by the end of the current 2023/2024 financial year.

“The ministry and NHIF should be very careful not to expend funds beyond its tenure. Transitional periods are very tricky and if not, careful you will be held liable for the ills committed during this time,” warned Pukose.